The opportunity and ability to turn one's life around is a fundamental principle of justice and of the American Dream. Unfortunately, it seems this principle of American values has gone missing from our broken justice system. Fixing the way inmates interact with the outside world is an important step in restoring it.
Mental illness often interferes with a person's easy and spontaneous participation in a social unit. A therapeutic community heals hurts and teaches new social skills. It takes a community to help a patient. Virgil Stucker has been living with and for the severely mentally ill all his adult life. Perhaps better than anyone, he can tell us what works.
Inmate education seems like a controversial issue. Cast in economic rather than moral terms, however, there is plenty of common ground. The question is not whether inmates "deserve" to learn like the rest of us, but whether we all benefit if they do. According to every available measure, the answer is yes.